Tiafoe Looked Awful


It’s only one match, one loss, but suddenly the near future of Frances Tiafoe looks blurry and not nearly as bright as a year ago.

Tiafoe has been working hard and training hard for the new season and seemed to have a good first round draw vs veteran Matthew Ebden in Brisbane. But instead of shining like a #NEXTGEN star on his way to the top ten, Tiafoe stunk the joint out.

Tiafoe electrified the tennis world last year losing two marathons to Roger Federer in Miami and the five setter at US Open. He looked dominant and devastating winning the Sarasota Challenger final vs Tennys Sandgren in April. But late in the year Taifoe was routed in straight sets by Fed in Basel. That backwards step loss seemed to have damaged Tiafoe’s confidence.

Against Ebden last night, Tiafoe was an error machine and his misses were by large margins. The sloppy performance reminded me of a match I recently played on Har Tru, my first match on Har Tru since July. My footing and timing were way off and I made a lot of misses of shots that with confidence on the surface I would never miss. I felt helpless and in need of another week or two of practice on clay.

Tiafoe looked so bad, and so off, that it looked like he hadn’t played on a hard court in months – as if he trained on red clay or Har Tru. That’s how lost his timing and form looked vs Ebden.

Ebden is a good player. He finaled at Newport last year, falling to John Isner. But yesterday, Tiafoe made Ebden look like a world beater.

The final score was 62 63 but it was worse than that. Tiafoe looked like a minor leaguer, not an ATP main draw caliber player. He looked unprepared and unready to start the season.

His shots were flying out long and wide, I can’t recall a worse looking performance in an ATP match.

Tiafoe is an exceptional talent, with a natural comfort playing big matches on the big stage. He has come so far in such a short amount of time. But something is off in his game right now and it needs to be fixed immediately.

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  • Duke Carnoustie · January 1, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    Yeah it’s too early to panic but sounded like he was awful. I watched that Fed match in Basel and he was bad. I really don’t think American players in recent years gear up well for this part of the season, which is a pity. Mardy Fish always flamed out of Melbourne. Isner and Sock also bad there. Obviously Roddick did well.

    Ryan Harrison is now being coached by ‘Iron’ Mike Russell?! Seems like an odd pairing but Iron Mike should get his head on straight at least

  • scoopmalinowski · January 1, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    Harrison looks very good. Russell should help him into the 30s. Donaldson looked even better tho. Stepping in and blasting winners vs Thompson who beat Sock twice last yr.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 2, 2018 at 2:12 am

    One area Tiafoe has t work on is focus judging from this.

    Q. Frances was talking about playing you. Was there any banter there about that potential matchup?
    NICK KYRGIOS: Yeah. I mean, we’ve practiced a lot, but I think just ultimately because we’re good mates. And he’s got a massive future ahead, I think. He’s exciting to watch. He’s got a good game.

    And, yeah, it would be nice to play him, but, you know, he’s in a bit of a tough battle at the moment.

  • Andrew Miller · January 2, 2018 at 9:18 am

    One match is one match.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 2, 2018 at 9:35 am

    I know it’s one match but he looked worse than Kozlov did at US open qualies last year vs Andreozzi. To have it happen in the first match of th year vs a journeyman is alarming.

  • jg · January 2, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    I’m predicting Fritz will break out this year, Tiafoe has to step up, Fritz has the steadier game and I think a better athlete than Donaldson whose practices did look strange, agree with other poster ( one on twos against some random juniors) Tiafoe looks like he assumes he will win these matches from the start and looks surprised when his opponent starts winning. He barely beat Ryan Haviland last year but yet took Federer to 5 sets.!

  • Chazz · January 2, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    It does sound like a step back. His thing has always been beating most players he should beat and then losing close matches to top players but looking good in most of those losses. He’s fast and strong but still needs to clear some mental hurdles.

  • Andrew Miller · January 2, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    Last year was good for USA men, best year since 2011. Sam Querrey was MVP for USA ATP players second year in a row with his semifinal at Wimbledon and quarterfinal at the US Open. I had thought he’d motivate more courageous play among his peers and increasingly he’s the last USA guy standing.

    Unbelievably the USA women out of nowhere delivered a superior year to the USA men, turning potential into a slam trophy.

    So the MVP from USA last year goes to Sloane Stephens. I hope she motivates the USA guys to play their hearts out this year.

  • Andrew Miller · January 2, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Sock Masters title a huge deal as well. Even though to my eye he falls flat in best of five slams, winning a Masters title, very big deal.

  • Dan Markowitz · January 3, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    Maybe the question is who will have a better career: Momh or Tiafoe. Delbonis was bad but Momh played best I ever saw him. Ebden is phenomenally fit. He’s Bryson Klein’s major nemesis; always knocking off the former Aussie.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 3, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Bryden Klein lost his first round challenger three setter this week. Another tough loss for Klein. Lost to Aussie Chris OConnell. Need to see a few more matches of Tiafoe this year to form a forecast, this loss was so bad we need to see if it was just a fluke bad day at the office.

  • Matty · January 12, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    I think Tiafoe is just in with the wrong management company and that’s a hinderence to his career at thie moment. For example if he had just played Aptos, Vegas and Charlottesville, he would have accumulated enough points to be in Milan with the NextGen. Instead he pocketed $7,000 to lose to the Fed in the first round of Basel. Was it worth it? Of course not. I saw him a few times over the winter, even though I couldn’t strike up a doubles match ( I tried). He was training hard and he’s fit. He’s preentered at the AO, so we shall see….

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 13, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    Tiafoe also has a gf for two years and so his total focus on his career could be suspect. Most elite players wait till they have made it on the Tour until they begin a serious romance.



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